Police to charge Dykstra in crash Daulton also injured

alcohol, speed cited

May 07, 1991|By Bill Glauber | Bill Glauber,Sun Staff Correspondent

PHILADELPHIA -- Lenny Dykstra was legally drunk when he and Philadelphia Phillies teammate Darren Daulton sustained multiple injures in a one-car accident early yesterday morning, Radnor Township, Pa., police said.

The pair remained hospitalized in fair condition at Bryn Mawr (Pa.) Hospital last night.

The accident occurred when Dykstra drove his 1991 Mercedes 500 SL into two trees on the side of a two-lane road in suburban Philadelphia. The players were returning from a bachelor party at a bar in Wayne, Pa., for teammate John Kruk.

Acting Radnor Township Police Chief Henry Jansen said Dykstra will be charged with drunken driving. Jansen said Dykstra's blood alcohol level exceeded the state's legal limit of 0.10. He would not reveal the specific level. Police said excessive speed also was a factor.

Dykstra, the starting center fielder for the National League's 1990 All-Star team, fractured his right cheekbone, right collarbone and three of his ribs. Daulton, the National League's highest-paid catcher, sustained a fracture of his left eye orbit and a scratched left cornea.

Asked if the players were fortunate to survive the accident, Phillies physician Dr. Phillip J. Marone said, "If they don't go to church, they better start, because they're very lucky."

Dykstra was placed on the 60-day disabled list and Daulton was placed on the 15-day disabled list by the Phillies.

"This is not a very happy day," Phillies president and general partner Bill Giles said while fighting back tears. "Life is so unpredictable. In baseball, things are going so good. We win six of eight games, then get slapped in the face."

Phillies players expressed shock when informed of the accident. The team begins a nine-game trip tonight in San Diego.

"My main concern is that Lenny and Darren are all right," relief pitcher Darrel Akerfelds said. "It's uncomfortable and distressing to hear about such an accident. Times like these make you realize the health of two people are more important than some other concerns."

Kruk, who was married yesterday, declined to comment.

The accident occurred yesterday at 1:06 a.m., nearly nine hours after Dykstra's ground out ended a 3-2 Phillies loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Dykstra's car crossed into an oncoming lane of traffic on a dry roadway and struck two trees, according to Radnor Township police. Neither man was wearing a seat beat, and the car's air bags did not inflate because the impact came from the side, police said. The players were out of the car when police arrived and were taken to Bryn Mawr Hospital. Doctors say neither player had any memory of the accident.

"They're [Dykstra and Daulton] in a lot of pain and not in very good spirits," Marone said.

Marone said Dykstra sustained a complete fracture of his right collarbone, but did not damage his right shoulder. Dykstra also had air in his lungs from the rib fractures, but X-rays and a CT scan showed the spinal cord was undamaged, Marone said.

"As far as when Lenny will be back, I don't know," Marone said.

The extent of eye damage suffered by Daulton remained unclear. The Phillies have no experience with a catcher sustaining a broken eye orbit.

"Whether he can put on a catcher's mask or not, I just don't know," Marone said.

Dykstra, 28, blossomed into one of baseball's top players last season, establishing career-bests in batting (.325), hits (192), steals (33), RBI (60) and on-base percentage (.418). His 23-game hitting streak was the National League's best, and he was hitting better than .400 as late as June 11.

But Dykstra, who played five seasons for the New York Mets, was called to testify in a gambling case against a Jackson, Miss., businessman in February. Dykstra admitted losing $77,000 playing poker and was given a year's probation by baseball commissioner Fay Vincent.

A spokesman for the commissioner said Vincent was concerned only about the complete recovery of the players.

Daulton, 29, had his finest season in 1990, leading NL catchers in games (139), walks (72), runs (62), doubles (30) and on-base percentage (.367). He was rewarded with a three-year, $6.75 million contract.

To fill Dykstra's and Daulton's spots, the Phillies recalled catcher Darren Fletcher and left-handed pitcher Wally Ritchie from their Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Pa.) affiliate. The team also announced that Von Hayes would take over Dykstra's center-field position and bat leadoff.

"Right now, we're just more concerned with Lenny and Darren being healthy and we're thankful they're alive," general manager Lee Thomas said.

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